Rep. Lindsay O. Graham (R-S.C.), who is running for the Senate in a state that is home to import-sensitive textile manufacturing, voted against it. But House Ways and Means Committee Chairman William M. Thomas (R-Bakersfield), whose district encompasses pro-export agricultural interests, led the effort for passage.
Thomas said that, without authority to negotiate trade accords, "the president does not have the tool to begin negotiations with other countries. That's like beginning a boxing match with one hand tied behind your back."
The Senate passed the central elements of the trade legislation in May by a vote of 66 to 30. Despite that lopsided majority, opponents will get another opportunity to stymie the legislation this week.
"A multitude of delaying tactics could be employed by opponents of the bill to slow it down or even kill the legislation," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who is a proponent. "We need to get the trade bill passed before the August recess. International trade is key to our economic recovery."